Infamous IVF mix-up at Thomson Fertility Centre has been ruled by the Court of Appeal

March 27th, 2017

IVF

The couple underwent their first in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment which led to the birth of their first son. Subsequently, after the successful attempt, the couple proceeded with a second treatment. However, due to a procedure and/or human error, there was a mix-up with the semen specimens. Hence, a baby girl, also known as Baby P, is born biologically related to the mother only.

The legal proceeding started since 2012. After 5 long years, the Court of Appeal (COA) has finally ruled that the mother is not allowed to claim for full damages as there is no “continuing source of loss” when the child has already been accepted as part of the family.

Fortunately, the mother is entitled to 30% of the financial costs of raising the child due to the “loss of genetic affinity” because “the ordinary human experience is that parents and children are bound by ties of blood and share physical traits.” That is the hard truth in our society till today.

After the incident, it is expected that couples who are seeking alternative methods to conceive would be greatly concerned about this issue. This article is to highlight that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has already tightened their clinical standards for IVF since then. We would say that the updated procedures does not eradicate all risks but, most definitely, minimise it to the bare minimum. Notably, there has been no other reported cases of IVF mix-up in Singapore.

 

Some key practices to note:

1) Embryologists are only allowed to work on an individual or a couple’s specimens on one workstation at a time.

2) They are to label every specimen, test tube, pipette and other apparatus with the relevant individual or couple names.

3) Any disposable apparatus are to be discarded after each usage to eliminate any contamination.

4) It is required to have a minimum of two embryologists working on one workstation. So they are able to cross-check each other and ensure that the specimens are being transferred to the correct receptacles.

 

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